Three more motorways ‘to be made part of CPEC’

ISLAMABAD: National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar has said three more motorway projects will be included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during the upcoming meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC).

The projects include Naukundi-Mushkel-Panjgur (90km), Gilgit-Shindor-Chitral (364km) and Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra (228km), said the chairman on Wednesday while giving a briefing to Federal Minister for Communications Hafiz Abdul Karim regarding the projects that comes under CPEC.

About the three projects, an official in the Ministry of Communication told The Express Tribune: “The reason behind bringing these projects under the CPEC is that China is already working on such projects in Pakistan; and the Pakistani government is also short of funds to invest on these mega projects.”

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He continued: “In principle, these projects have been approved by the Chinese government, but a formal approval will be given in the upcoming JCC meeting which is expected to be held in Pakistan by the end of this year.”

The official said that feasibility studies of three projects were being conducted at present. “Therefore, for their timely completion it is better that these projects are executed by China, otherwise they will remain in doldrums for want of funds,” he added.

The NHA chairman, meanwhile, said currently 13 motorway projects worth Rs1,300 billion were being executed across the country under the CPEC, and expected to be completed over the next two years.

The projects – including Hazara Motorway (E-35), Lyari Expressway (32km), Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (136km) and Rathodero-Khuzdar Motorway (M-8) – would be completed this year, he added.

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A number of other important projects including Gojra-Shorkot (62km), Shorkot-Khanewal (65km), Lahore-Abdulhakim Motorway (230km) and Dera Ismail Khan-Hakla section of the Western Corridor (285km), Lahore Eastern Bypass (16km) and Chakdara-Kalam highway would be completed in 2018, he said, adding that Havelian-Mansera (39km) and two sections of the Multan-Sukkur Motorway would be completed before June 2018.

The NHA chairman also informed the minister that highway projects worth around Rs350 billion were awarded on the Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis.

Earlier, Japanese ambassador Takashi Kurai called on Federal Minister for Communications Hafiz Abdul Karim in his office on Wednesday and discussed issues of mutual interests.

Saudi Arabia keen to invest in CPEC

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Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Said Ahmad Al-Malkiy has said that the kingdom is looking forward to investing in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar port projects.

During an interview, according to Radio Pakistan, he said CPEC was a huge project and would create many investment opportunities.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are cooperating in military, economic and other sectors and their cooperation will increase further in the future, the Saudi ambassador continued.

The envoy also stressed that the Muslim Ummah should become united so as to overcome the challenges being faced by it.

The $46-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project focuses on road building and energy infrastructure to end chronic power shortages in Pakistan and to link China’s landlocked north-west with the deep-water port Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.

In 2016, Iran and Saudi Arabia wished to join the CPEC framework as a good indication. Pakistan welcomed their participation.